The return of Nephren-Ka sees them bring us a new lineup, (including a new singer), and a few more blackened influences. Other than that, we’re once again in for a brutal ride of Dune-flavoured death metal. I loved 2013’s The Fall of Omnius and 2017’s La Grande Guerre de L’Epice, and now From Agony to Transcendence looks set to inflate my already high impressions of this superlative band.
Across nine tracks Nephren-Ka ably demonstrate why I hold them in such high regard. With well-written songs that paint an extreme, yet absorbing picture, its great to hear some new material from the band.
This new album is as accomplished as you would expect, displaying precise technical aggression and sheer bloody brutality. The songs are well-composed slices of dark violence. Nephren-Ka have a talent for writing songs that are interesting, nuanced, and memorable, while simultaneously ripping the listener’s face off with such violent aggression that it’s hard to experience them and remain unscathed.
As well as the clear instant gratification available from death metal like this, a notable additional element of bands who deliver as much quality as Nephren-Ka do, is depth. Amidst the brutality lie moments of respite or texture. The solos are melodic and atmospheric, for example, and a few different creative ideas are peppered throughout, (such as the epic symphonic ending to L’Agonie de l’epice, or the atmospheric heaviosity of much of Vision of the Secher Nbiw). The bass has a good presence too, and its contribution is an important one.
The band’s new singer has a first rate voice and his performance is brutally effective. He has a wide range, with a variety of growls and pig squeals used, and his fast-paced delivery suits the music well.